Invoking the ingenuity and courage of the Doolittle Raiders and other aviators of World War II, Chief of Staff of the Air Force General CQ Brown, Jr., urged the current Force Totale in a September 20 speech to embrace a “culture of innovation, collaboration and similar responsibility that has made the impossible possible”.
Change – and a new culture – is needed, Brown said during his address to the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber ââConference, to address emerging and legitimate threats from China and the United States. âclose to peersâ competitors. Such a change is necessary to develop and deploy new capabilities necessary to defend the United States, its interests and its allies.
âWe see two important challenges converge,â said Brown. âFirst of all, the return to strategic competition with adversaries close to their peers capable of threatening not only the American homeland, but its ideals and values. The second is the need to holistically transform our air force to compete, deter and win in an environment that is highly contested but blocked by bureaucracy, prioritization and the use of resources.
Brown’s assessment of threats and what is needed to echo those presented early in the day by the secretary of the air force Frank Kendall. Like Brown, Kendall noted China’s growth and ambitions as a primary strategic concern and the need for the Air Force to reset the way it operates and thinks to respond successfully.
âTo overcome these challenges, we must transform our culture into one that values ââinnovation, collaboration and accountability,â said Brown. ââ¦ We must act with a sense of urgency today to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Because the return to strategic competition is our nation’s greatest challenge.
The main themes of Brown’s remarks to an audience of aviators, industry officials, policymakers and advocates, all echoed the call to action Brown made over the years ago. one year, shortly after becoming the service’s most senior officer. This document, “Speed ââup, change or loseIs Brown’s model for forcing cultural change, for adding speed to actions and decisions, and instilling a freer sense of innovation through force.
While Brown stressed that the Air Force must do everything possible to change and accelerate in order to accomplish its missions and protect the nation, he also noted that such a change is possible due to the quality of the members of the the total Force.
âI truly believe we have the best aviators and the best defense and technology industry in the world,â he said. âTogether we must work to accomplish what seems impossible. We must meet the challenges of today to prepare for tomorrow.
Brown said he had seen “progress” in meeting the goals he set, but said more was needed.
âOver the past year, I have seen the embers of a culture change,â he said. “Our culture change has allowed Airmen to cut red tape and decide priorities based on what is truly value-added.”
He added, âBased on our deliberate efforts to change and define the culture, I believe we have begun to establish conditions to ensure that American air power can continue to be decisive in 2030 and beyond. “
But, he warned, there is no room for complacency. “A few embers here and there will not bring about a culture change,” nor will it transform the bureaucracy of the service to move faster and with a clear purpose, “he said.
âMy job and our collective job as leaders is to throw fuel, through innovation and collaboration, on the embers to create a fire of culture change. Culture is not enough, we must accomplish what seems impossible, we must transform our Air Force to meet the demands of tomorrow.
Brown praised the recent performance of the Air Force in Afghanistan “where we saw our airmen fly the biggest airlift in history”.
But he offered a bookend to the history of Afghanistan and the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack to what is facing today.
“We cannot wait for a catastrophic crisis – sudden or insidious – to bring about changes for our air force and the joint force,” he said. ” It will be too late. “
He specifically highlighted personal actions and initiatives that bring out the kind of thinking and behavior needed to ensure continued superiority. “While I was at AFCENT (US Air Forces Central) and USAFE (United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa), I saw fighter squadrons prove that we can generate power of fight with a third less staff, âhe said. âThey were able to achieve this by capitalizing on versatile aviators and agile combat employment concepts. “
He called for praise Master Sgt. Jason Yunker and Master Sgt. Timothy Peters and the so-called VIPER case they developed from a concept “drawn on the back of a bar towel” which allows refueling operations with any existing infrastructure.
âThis reduces the footprint required to support the combat generation from six vehicles, six people, and diplomatic clearances that take up to 15 days per TDY toâ¦ three people, and no diplomatic clearance,â he said. “Not only has it changed the way the Air Force conducts deployed refueling and enables rapid global operations, it has changed the lives of these airmen.”
Another example is Lt. Miolani Grenier, Brown said. Although Grenier is an Air Force intelligence officer, she is certified to drive a forklift “so that she can unload the plane on its initial arrival at a deployment site.”
âThis is exactly the type of crop that we need,â Brown said. âIf we don’t challenge the status quo, we won’t be able to deliver air power anytime, anywhere. “
Brown’s remarks came three days after posting a “Innovation letter“to Airmen. While acknowledging in the one-page letter” that innovation has instinctively aligned to create the world’s dominant air force, “Brown said more was needed.
âTo be successful, we need to correctly identify problems, empower solutions decentralized by individuals and teams, and instill a philosophy of innovation at all levels. Innovation depends on both creative individuals and supporting organizations to turn concepts into reality, âthe letter says.
Brown carried this call to action in his remarks at the AFA conference.
“I am extremely proud of the progress we have made in creating a culture that will ensure our success tomorrow,” he told the audience of over 2,000 at AFA.
âBut we still have work to do and we need to work together and hold each other accountable. â¦ We have the opportunity, but not the time. We need to accelerate change to leave our mark and make the impossible possible.